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Fonts behaving badly.

Before upgrading your Mac OS from 10.5.8 to what will eventually be 10.6.8, especially in these complicated times, you really have to plan ahead if you use your computer for work. Especially if that work includes graphic design that uses fonts, they will betray you! But you can get them to come crawling back, you just have to spend a little time taming them.

I had decided to be lazy, against everything I’ve learned in the past 15 years, and try to upgrade my OS while leaving my software as is. I have 14+ applications that I use regularly and I was not up for reinstalling all of them. Looking back, that was a stupid decision, in addition to being lazy. It made a mess out of pretty much all of my design apps and trashed my font management abilities completely.

I started looking for other users comments and experiences and found I was not a unique case, and I just needed to update until I reached 10.6.8 to regain control of my fonts. Whew! Since I installed the new OS from a purchased CD, it was not up to date, it was just plain OS 10.6, a lot had changed. I figured all right, I’ll download the system updates, and all will be well (with a home DSL connection, these take forever). Updates downloaded, and installed, my fonts were still behaving badly. They were not being recognized and every time I tried to verify a font I got an error message and a new “big red x” beside the font.

Now I’m thinking I have to go back to my old OS 10.5.8. Fortunately I had backed my entire system up to a bootable drive so I could go running back in time if it got too scary. I was clueless about the font problem when I did this or I may not have upgraded at all! Note here: I never save work to my computer’s hard drive. I always work off of external drives. I love the ones that contain two drives that you can set up to mirror each other. I have backups of everything, and it’s all in one neat little box!

I looked into updating my font management software thinking that would help. Well, that wouldn’t even install. No matter how many times I pleaded with it. I’d invested a good 15 hours in this process between downloads, research and installs, and I was not going down without a good fight. I lost the battle. I caved…

Since I abhor disorder, and weirdness going on while I’m working, I concluded my only intelligent options were to go back to the old, or wipe the entire drive and start from scratch with the new OS from the CD. I would like to add here, this is where I should have started, as I mentioned earlier. Don’t be lazy, just back up everything to a bootable drive, your safety net, and dive in, wipe that drive clean, install the new OS and all of its updates.

Next, check with the vendor website for each of your apps to see if you need to update them to be compatible with your new OS. You don’t want to install incompatible software and mess up your pristine new system. I spent another 15 hours updating and installing and installing and installing. It was worth it though, my machine was and is screamin’ fast now! But my fonts were still having issues.

Back to web research, I’d found before I did the clean install that the Mac OS’s prior to 10.6.8 had issues with Postscript, Type 1 and OpenType fonts as well as a bunch of other font issues. This site is very informative and helpful.
Once I read this, since my system software was now up to date, I looked for the solution on my font management software vendor’s site and learned that they offered a fix for the font problems I was having. Personally, I’d rather have software manage my fonts then delve into some of the more complicated solutions. I just want the fonts to be there when I need them, magically!

Most importantly this took care of my font weirdness once and for all. Bad font problems like fonts that won’t display, incorrect font menus, garbled text, faulty font substitutions, false font corruption warnings (which I got for every single font), application instability and all weird performance problems. Big relief. Imagine not being able to open any of your legacy client files. No don’t. I did, and it was not an enjoyable experience.

Insert me here, hugely grateful at this point. Please understand, since I’m a bit obsessive compulsive, I had been at this process pretty much every waking hour since I’d started. I downloaded while I slept! I needed to be up and running to get back to work. Today, everything is running great, and I’m glad I finally got smart and decided on the “clean install” avenue, even though it is time-consuming. I suggest a nice glass of wine to keep you patient, ok, sane, when working during cocktail hour.

As usual, I will not upgrade to the newest, the world’s most advanced OS, Lion 10.7, until 10.8 is announced, since stability, performance, and predictability are important to me while I’m working. I’ll let you brave, edgy folks out there test it out first, oh many thanks to you daring Mac OS devotees. By the way, what animal do you think we’ll have as a mascot for 10.8? Or, hey maybe Apple will use a raptor? Ya think? How about an osprey?

Anyway, just fyi, I use Adobe CS5 Design Premium, Insider Software’s FontAgent Pro for Mac and that cool solution they provide called, Smasher 2. The font tamer!!! Love it. Docile fonts! Find them right here… While you’re at it check out their sweet deal on OpenType fonts!

So far, Office, Toast 11, Spin Doctor, Painter 11, Genuine Fractals Print Pro, Photomatix Pro, and VueScan are all doing well with the appropriate upgrades where needed. I haven’t been able to get my LaCie Blue Eye Pro to work correctly yet, and the upgrade won’t install…hmm, ya just can’t rest the mind these days…I must find the answer to this one. Eventually, it’s not a big issue.

I decided to post this just in case any of you are thinking of being lazy. ☺ Don’t make more work for yourself. It really is true. Do it right the first time. It takes way less time! And yes it did take me quite awhile to write this to explain why I did it wrong…and I know better!

“It takes less time to do a thing right, than it does to explain why you did it wrong.” – Henry Wadsworth Longfellow


By now even those living under a rock have at least a rudimentary idea of what social media is. I’m a believer in the power of social media. I’ve increased the amount of views at my website by 400% in a little over a year without paid advertising, using only various social media channels.

Website Magazine suggests that social media is very valuable.
I agree. There are those that don’t agree. Are you one of them? Why?

adobe illustrator wear and tear texture tutorial image.
I see this worn, distressed effect used all over the place lately. It’s not new, it just seems to be hanging on. I discovered this easy, easy way to recreate this distressed look and a lot more. So here it is, short and sweet. I used Adobe Illustrator CS5 this time, I was also able to recreate this effect in Illustrator CS3 too.

Step One: Set your type (I used Arial Black for this example). You can use a shape instead of type if you want to.

step one image adobe illustrator texture tutorial

Step Two: If you’re using type, convert your type to outlines; select your type, then go to Type; Create Outlines.

step two adobe illustrator texture tutorial image.

Step Three: Add color as desired. You can give the outlined text a a stoke too if you like. The shape has to be filled in order for the effect to work.

step 3 adobe illustrator texture tutorial image.

Step Four: Choose an image of a texture that you want to use. The image must be at least as large as the shape you are distressing. I used an image I shot for this example. It’s cracked pavement. If you don’t have any texture images you can get some really good images from Wetzel Company, Inc. Wetzel offers great, copyright free, background, texture, and pattern images for use in Photoshop, Illustrator too. offers free high-res textures for digital art and graphic design.

Once you’ve chosen your image, open it in Photoshop, and increase the contrast a bit, and lighten the image if it’s very dark using Image; Adjustments; Brightness Contrast. This will help the texture show up better in the next steps. Save and close your image and go back to Illustrator. Although, not all images will require this step, and it may not be necessary at all given the colors you choose.
step four adobe illustrator texture tutorial image.

Step Five: In Illustrator, Go to File; Place, and navigate to the texture image file you have chosen. Scale your texture image as you wish, making sure it will cover the area of your type, or shape. (It is best to have an image that is bigger than your shape, you don’t want to increase the size of your texture image because it’s a raster not vector, and you will lose resolution).

step five adobe illustrator texture tutorial image.

Step Six: Now select both the type or shape, and your texture image. Open your Transparency panel (Window; Transparency), then open the fly out menu on the right, and choose make opacity mask.

step 6 adobe illustrator texture tutorial image.

Step Seven: Check out your Transparency panel, while both items are selected and you’ll see two image icons. One is your type shape, the other the texture mask. You can click on the texture mask icon in your Transparency panel, and using the direct selection tool, (A), you can move the texture image around as you wish to get the effect that you want.

step seven adobe illustrator texture tutorial image.

Step Eight: You can select Invert Mask in your Transparency panel for a result similar to this. Notice that you can click on either your mask image or your original shape from within the panel, be sure to click on your original shape in your Transparency panel when you’re done to get out of mask mode (if you don’t you won’t be able to select anything else). That’s all there is to it.

step eight adobe illustrator texture tutorial image.

You can have a lot of fun with this method by layering textures on top of each other, masking shapes with texture images, and using a variety of textures and patterns. This look is useful for a lot of different applications from logos, to page layout, or posters, video, DVD interfaces. You name it. Your imagination is the limit! Experiment and see what you can do with it.

examples of texture transparency mask applied to various objects image.